Fixing Nigeria: The Place of Common Sense
Nothing more aptly sums up the despondency currently felt by Nigerians than the video of a frustrated Nigerian man sitting on the roof top of his taxi in one of the monstrous fuel queues in Lagos. When interviewed on what he thought of the current difficulties facing the nation, he responded in Yoruba ‘It is better all of us just died. Not a few, we should all just die and end this once and for all.’ The video went viral on Instagram and while I’m not sure a vast majority of Nigerians even with all the perils bedeviling the nation will want to die, the video was a rude reminder of how deteriorating our national life has become that death is even considered a suitable escape route.
It is a shame that in the midst of these perilous times, the national political discourse has been a verbal slugfest between the so-called wailers and the #IstandwithBuhari disciples. Tragically, this is the vicious circle of our political contemplations nowadays. It is never about the issues, it is always about those who want the president to fail because in their universe a certain Goodluck Jonathan was the best thing to have happened to Nigeria since creation, and those who believe that President Buhari remains the messiah to deliver us into the Promised Land. The energy devoted by these bi-polar apostles in driving home their point almost defies belief. And in the midst of this political tirade, we are almost a nation in comatose.
I belong to the school of thought that say it’s still early days to pass judgment on the administration of president Buhari and the jury will still be out for a while on that. However, the early days and signs of delivering a ‘Change’ he so equivocally dangled before us during the electioneering period remains doubtful on so many evidences of today. As captured by Okey Ndibe in his article recently ‘The evidence is that, for all the years he spent running for the office of the Nigerian president, Mr. Buhari had little or no vision of the direction he intended to move the country. He took more than four months to produce a list of his ministers, and turned out to be a predictable and tepid cabinet. That timetable said something about the man and his state craft.’
For all his commitment in waging the war against corruption, President Buhari must realize that fighting corruption is not an end in itself. A corrupt free state is only part of a jigsaw that will translate into delivering a system where the dividends of democracy will be delivered to the people. Yet, as Femi Falana noted recently, he is not winning this war. Building firm institutions and a reform of the judicial system to position it in combating corruption is the answer. Our courts as they currently are, are ill-equipped to effectively see this battle through, and are infested by an avalanche of dubious clauses and crooked men in wig that will cower under the weight of a political heavyweight. Until this is done, corruption will always fight back, with venom.
It is not rocket science to fix Nigeria. While we all know that the recuperating period of a nation that is economically and socially on her knees will take some time, Nigerians should not be made to agonizingly suffer, before seeing the happy days. As a people, we have gone through a lot already. President Buhari must realize that whatever reforms and policies he chooses to pursue, no matter how genuinely intended they might be, must have a human face to it and not leave the citizenry in greater quagmire. While the thorough revival of Nigeria will take a while, palliatives and quick wins are expected in the short term. There are lots of quick wins that ought to have been made by this administration. The establishment of anti-corruption courts, a refurbishment of the transport system, electoral sanity, re-orientation campaigns and the formulation of a holistic economic policy are not unconventional and ingenious ideas in the short-term. These are few points of references that this government could have, and can still use in registering early lead on the scoreboard while the huge issues of tackling unemployment and sanitizing the Petroleum sector remains work in progress. As a matter of fact, during the recent fuel crises that crippled the nation, there were palliative measures the government should have considered. Fuel rationing and flooding the main cities with sponsored transport vehicles to provide an alternative to commuters wouldn’t have been a novel idea. Moreover, while the queues were overwhelming, an efficient Road safety agency and security operatives could have helped to ease the traffic logjam that was a consequence of the scarcity.
The point remains that this government is too reactive in dealing with the issues confronting the nation. It might not have created the plethora of problems, but it was voted in to fix it. Those in government should be under no illusion or ever conceive the condescending idea that they are doing the people a favour. In a country of over 170 million people, government officials must count themselves fortunate to be steering the national ship. Our country surely needs fixing on many levels, but it is not rocket science. President Buhari must show an enhanced will, the three tiers of government must display an urgency in action and we the people must wake up from the delusion that one man will conjure a magic wand that will bring uhuru and el dorado overnight.